PRINCETON, N.J. – For the 10th consecutive year, the ECHL is represented on the Stanley Cup champion with Chicago Blackhawks assistant coaches Mike Haviland and John Torchetti.
Other former ECHL players with the Blackhawks are developmental goaltending coach Wade Flaherty, senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac, general manager of minor league affiliations Mark Bernard and scout Ryan Stewart.
The Toledo Walleye are the ECHL affiliate of the Blackhawks. The Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League has affiliations with 28 of the 30 teams in the NHL, marking the 13th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams. The ECHL had a record 78 players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the 71 from a year ago and marking the seventh year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters.
Haviland played 16 games in the ECHL with Richmond and Winston-Salem in 1990-91 and began his coaching career as an assistant with Trenton in 1999-00. He became the head coach in Atlantic City in 2001-02, leading the Boardwalk Bullies to the 2003 Kelly Cup championship, before returning to Trenton in 2004-05 when he led the Titans to the Kelly Cup title. He becomes the first coach to have his name engraved on both the Kelly Cup and Stanley Cup.
Torchetti played three seasons with Carolina and Winston-Salem scoring 127 points (58g-69a) in 124 games from 1988-91 and was part of the first ECHL championship team in 1989. He was an assistant coach with Greensboro from 1993-95.
In addition to Haviland and Torchetti, there are 14 former ECHL players who have been on the Stanley Cup winner: Dan Bylsma and Ruslan Fedotenko (Pittsburgh – 2009), Aaron Downey (Detroit – 2008), Francois Beauchemin and George Parros (Anaheim – 2007), Andrew Hutchinson and Chad LaRose (Carolina – 2006), Ruslan Fedotenko, Nolan Pratt and Andre Roy (Tampa Bay – 2004), Corey Schwab (New Jersey – 2003), Manny Legace (Detroit – 2002), David Aebischer and Nolan Pratt (Colorado – 2001), Krzysztof Oliwa (New Jersey – 2000) and Kevin Dean (New Jersey – 1995). Fedotenko and Pratt are the only former ECHL players to have their name engraved twice on the Stanley Cup.
There are two other former ECHL coaches who have gone to win a Stanley Cup: former Louisiana and Pensacola head coach Dave Farrish was an assistant coach with Anaheim in 2007 and former Wheeling head coach Peter Laviolette was the head coach for Carolina in 2006.
The ECHL was represented in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by 35 former players and 14 coaches on 15 of the 16 teams. It was the fifth year in a row that there were at least 30 former ECHL players and the seventh consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience competed in the NHL postseason. It marked the sixth straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches.
There have been 443 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including a record 52 who made their debut in 2008-09. The ECHL has had 251 players reach the NHL since 2002-03 when it changed its focus to become the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. The ECHL had 97 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years. There have been 187 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last five seasons for an average of more than 37 per year.
There were six players who played in the ECHL and the NHL this season: Kyle Calder with Bakersfield and Anaheim, Jeremy Duchesne with Kalamazoo and Philadelphia, Tomas Kana with Alaska and Columbus, Dan Sexton with Bakersfield and Anaheim, MacGregor Sharp with Bakersfield and Anaheim and Matt Zaba with Charlotte and the New York Rangers.
The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender and current New York Islanders head coach Scott Gordon, who played his first game with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo on Jan. 30, 1990.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the National Hockey League include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Rob Simpson, who is a producer/host for The NHL Network.
Ryan Stanzel and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville and Kelly Murray are now with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals, respectively, while former ECHL director of communications Jason Rothwell is the creative director for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider” of the ECHL.
• Watch ECHL games around the clock on ECHL TV on B2CableTV.com.
• The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
• ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 20 teams in 15 states and British Columbia in 2009-10.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• ECHL has affiliations with 26 of the 29 teams in the American Hockey League and for the past 20 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion.
• In the last six seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 3,000 call-ups involving more than 1,500 players and in 2009-10 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com